Stress is a biological process that happens in the body when it needs to deal with any kind of physical or emotional demand. Though it’s generally seen as a bad thing, some amount of stress can actually be quite beneficial for our health.
People experience different levels of stress, but it generally has the same effects on the body. It causes us to tense up our muscles, make more mistakes, and have trouble concentrating.
It’s hard to say exactly what “stress” is without defining what it really means to us. Stress can come from many sources – everything from deadlines at work or school, traffic jams, or an argument with your spouse. I’m going to share some tips on how to combat stress in your daily life.
We all get stressed from time to time. In its mild form, it can be a useful response to challenging or difficult situations. However, when the stress becomes overwhelming and chronic, it can have a huge impact on your physical and mental health.
How Does Your Brain Respond to Stress?
Stress is the body’s reaction to what it perceives as a threat. Our brains are wired in such a way that when we are confronted with an external stressor, the hypothalamus triggers the release of cortisol which, in turn, causes our heart to race, blood pressure to rise and our bodies to tense up. This process is also known as “fight-or-flight” and can be triggered by events such as trauma or an accident.
What You Should Know About the Somatic Symptoms of Stress
Somatic symptoms are physical reactions to stress. They can be mental or emotional, but they are always physical. Although the list is not exhaustive, here are some of the most common somatic symptoms of stress:
- Tension in neck and shoulders
- Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
- Chest pain (angina) or discomfort (pleurisy)
- Dizziness or lightheadedness (vertigo)
Ways to Reduce Your Stress
Start with breathing – by taking a few deep breaths, you can reset your body’s response to stimuli and calm yourself down.
Move – take the time out of the day to go for a walk or go for a run outside. Movement can release endorphins, which can diminish pain and improve moods, respectively.
Make sure that you are getting enough sleep – try going to bed an hour or two earlier than usual or keep your room dark when sleeping by using blackout blind, or a blackout sleep mask.
Meditation – meditation is a technique that has been used for centuries to help with stress and anxiety. It is a technique that many people find helpful because it doesn’t take any physical or mental energy to do and can be done anywhere.
Yoga – yoga is another ancient technique that has been used to help reduce stress for centuries now. A few of the most popular yoga poses are cat pose, downward-facing dog pose, and child’s pose which all promote relaxation and calmness throughout the body and mind.
The stigma surrounding mental health is a serious issue that needs to be discussed. We have been taught from a young age that mental health is something to be ashamed of and not talked about, but it’s time we changed the conversation.
In recent years, there has been a growth in medical research and understanding of the brain. There are now medications and therapies available for those who suffer from mental illness to help them cope with their disorder.
Mental illness should not be an isolating experience as there are people who can help you through it, and there’s lots of information online to help us with tips and coping strategies for stress, but seeing our doctor is also very important, to ensure we get the right help.